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Learn about the science of plant-based meat. Discover resources and research projects on the latest technological developments and key scientific questions.
Introduction to plant-based meat
What is plant-based meat?
GFI uses the term “plant-based” to refer to products made from plants that are alternatives to animal-based products. This includes plant-based meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy. This overview focuses primarily on the science of plant-based meat and seafood.
The concept of plant-based meat is not a modern development. The prevalence and variety of plant-based meat has steadily increased for centuries. However, many of the early plant-based meat products were designed with vegetarian consumers in mind. Early plant-based meats did not try to exactly replicate, or biomimic, conventional meat.
Recent concerns about sustainability, food security, and the environmental and public health impacts of industrial animal agriculture have spurred a sense of urgency to develop plant-based meats that appeal to mainstream consumers rather than niche markets. This has led to an explosion of innovation during the last decade. Today’s plant-based meat options appeal to the fast-growing segment of “flexitarian” consumers.
What is the market for plant-based meat?
Flexitarian consumers are looking for plant-based meat options that create the same sensory experience as animal-based meat. These consumers deliberately reduce their meat consumption but do not completely give up animal-based products. This decision to eat more plants is often due to concerns about health, the environment, or animal protection. It may also simply be a way of obtaining novelty and variety with flavorful and affordable meals. The rise in flexitarianism is creating considerable market growth for plant-based foods.
Despite the market growth in plant-based foods, plant-based meat is currently only about 1% of the US retail meat market. For plant-based meat to become a significant part of the global meat market in the coming decades, there remains tremendous need for additional R&D. This innovation and subsequent growth of the plant-based meat industry will only be realized through a concerted and collaborative effort to direct resources (financial, human, and technological) to this area.